Cigars and Humidor Frequently Asked Questions
I never thought when I started to sell humidors that people would ask me all kinds of cigar related questions. Sure I was all ready to answer questions like the interior dimensions of my humidors or how to calibrate a hygrometer, but then the real tough ones started to pour in.
All of the questions below were taken from actual e-mails to me. I have spent a considerable amount of time compiling the answers from a variety of sources. Hopefully you will find the answer to a question that has been on your mind. If not, then please contact us and I will work my butt off to get you the correct answer. Remember, there are no such things as stupid questions.
WHAT IS YOUR HUMIDOR RECOMMENDATION?
This is by far the most common question I receive. For the most part, your choice comes down to personal preference. However, there are a few things you should ask yourself prior to choosing a humidor:
- The most important question is how many cigars you want to be able to store. Most first-time humidor buyers initially purchase a small, 25-50 count humidor and then outgrow it within a year. I always recommend buying a larger humidor than you think you will need. It is not a problem to store only a few cigars in a larger humidor, but it is a problem to try and stuff a bunch of cigars into a smaller humidor.
- Another important question is if you want a glass top versus a wood top. There is a common misconception that glass top humidors leak humidity. All of our glass tops are sealed to the wood portion of the lid so there is no gap in the seal. They maintain humidity just like a wood top. The benefit of a glass top is that you do not need to open it to check your humidity reading.
These two questions will help you narrow down your choices. After that it comes down to aesthetic preference. You are going to be looking at this box every day so choose the one you like the look of. As long as it has a good seal you can't go wrong.
DO YOU REMOVE THE BAND WHEN SMOKING A CIGAR?
There are very few questions in the cigar community that can start a war, but this is one of them. There are really two schools on this issue, each vigorously defending their side. The real answer is a matter of personal preference. If you do decide to take the band off, you should be very careful. The band is applied with vegetable glue and can easily rip the wrapper leaf when being removed. The best way to do it is to smoke the cigar for a few minutes, allowing the glue to heat up then slowly slide the band off the cigar.
DO YOU REMOVE THE PLASTIC WRAPPER WHEN STORING IN A HUMIDOR?
Daily I get asked, should I remove the wrapper from my new cigars before I store them in my humidor? The simple answer, it doesn't matter.
I know, you are confused. You think that the plastic prevents the cigar from getting humidity. Believe me, I understand your confusion, but don't worry, I'll explain. Cigars are stored in what is called cellophane. The cellophane is used to prevent the cigars from being damaged, and deters against flavors mixing. But what many people don't know is that cellophane is actually a porous material. In other words, it allows humidity to pass through it.
Want an example? Take a cigar in the wrapper and leave it outside your humidor for a week. You might as well throw it away, it will be ruined. The wrapper didn't hold in the humidity, it did nothing at all really. So it isn't hard to see how the wrapper doesn't really affect the humidity of the cigar.
It comes down to personal preference. Some people like them on, some people like them off. The advantages of keeping them on is that your cigar flavors won't mingle as much, though you would be hard pressed to notice unless you are an expert. It also is great to cut your cigars with the wrappers on as it keeps the blade clean and sharp much longer.
DO YOU HAVE TO AGE ALL CIGARS?
Just like wine, aging a cigar adds to the taste, aroma and experience. Most people will buy a box or two of cigars and place them in their humidor. They smoke a few at a time, and age the rest. In fact, many people have separate humidors for aging. It is by no means necessary to age your cigars, however, it does add to the experience.
Occasionally you will get a box of cigars that have an unpleasant ammonia smell to them. This means the tobacco wasn't finished fermenting prior to being rolled into a cigar. In these rare cases, you will need to age the cigars. Let them sit in a humidor undisturbed for a month or two and then smoke one. If you enjoy the aroma and flavor then smoke away. If they still reek of ammonia or have a bitter flavor then let them sit for another month or two.
DO YOU NEED TO SEPARATE CIGARS IN A HUMIDOR?
It really depends on how long you are keeping your cigars in the humidor. For 2-3 months, the answer is no, the flavors will not have a chance to blend together. For 2-3 years, you might want to separate the cigars slightly so the flavor of each cigar is not jeopardized. If you do want to separate cigars in a humidor, then you will need Spanish cedar dividers
If you are storing flavored or infused cigars it becomes more important to keep them separated. You never want to store regular cigars along with infused cigars. Most people keep a separate "infused only" humidor so that the flavored cigars do not meld with the non-flavored ones.
CAN I SMOKE MY CIGARS RIGHT AFTER I BUY THEM?
Most people will tell you no. The reasoning is that you have no idea when your cigar dealer received those cigars, and how they were stored before they got them. They might have them on display in a large walk-in humidor, but they might have been sitting on a loading dock for 3 months before that. The best idea is to allow them to dehumidify properly before smoking them. You can simply place them in your humidor for a day or so and then you should be all set.
HOW DO YOU RESTORE A DRY CIGAR?
It has happened to all of us at one time or another. You simply forgot about that nice box of stogies you had in the back seat of your car for 3 months. Ok, well hopefully you aren't that absent minded, but you get the idea. I always get asked what you can do to restore dried cigars.
The most important thing to remember is that restoring a dried cigar takes time. Lots of time and patience don't be in a hurry to get the job done.
Take your cigars and put them in a non-humidified humidor. If this doesn't exist, then you can use a zip-top bag with some holes poked in it. You want to bring the cigars to a steady humidity level that is much less than 70%. Let them sit in this environment for about 2-3 days.
WHY ISN'T MY HUMIDOR MAINTAINING THE PROPER HUMIDITY?
- The most common reason that humidors don't maintain humidity is that they were never humidified (or seasoned) before initial use. It is very important that you take the time and effort to humidify or season your humidor prior to loading it up with cigars. Most humidors are lined in kiln-dried Spanish cedar which is dried to about 2% humidity prior to installation.
- Make sure that the lid of your humidor is closing completely. If it is not, then humidity can escape or enter your humidor, resulting in an inaccurate hygrometer reading.
- Assure that your hygrometer is reading correctly. This can be done by calibrating the hygrometer prior to use.
- Make sure that you are not opening and closing the humidor lid too often. Every time you open the lid of your humidor you are allowing humidity to either enter or escape.
- If your humidor is placed near a heat or cold source it will affect the humidity.
- If the humidor has been recently moved or jostled, the hygrometer might need some time to come to equilibrium.
WHY ISN'T MY HYGROMETER ACCURATE?
An analog hygrometer uses a bi metal technology that is easily affected by movement. When you first receive a new hygrometer it is imperative that you calibrate it prior to installing it. You can do this using a salt-test calibration or using a calibrating kit.
HOW DO I GET MY HUMIDIFIER TO STICK ON THE HUMIDOR?
When you install your humidifier, make sure you press firm and hard on the metallic plate for two minutes to assure a tight bond. If this is not done, the humidifier might fall off. If your humidifier still falls loose then you can try re-applying using a hot glue gun or any other non-odor emitting glue. Once this is done you can replace the unit and enjoy your smokes.
WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY HUMIDIFIER?
The location of the humidifier doesn't make a very big difference in smaller, desk top humidors, but when it comes to larger humidors, humidifier placement is an important part of maintaining humidity. Contrary to popular belief, humid air doesn't fall to the bottom of the humidor, it rises. Water vapor molecules weigh less than air molecules so the more humid air will rise to the top of the humidor so you should keep the humidifier on the bottom of your humidor to insure a more uniform distribution of humidity.